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A Blot in the 'Scutcheon by Robert Browning
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ROBERT BROWNING stands, in respect to his origin and his career,
in marked contrast to the two aristocratic poets beside whose dramas
his "Blot in the 'Scutcheon" is here printed. His father was a bank
clerk and a dissenter at a time when dissent meant exclusion
from Society; the poet went neither to one of the great public schools
nor to Oxford or Cambridge; and no breath of scandal touched his name.
Born in London in 1812, he was educated largely by private tutors,
and spent two years at London University, but the influence of his
father, a man of wide reading and cultivated tastes, was probably
the most important element in his early training. He drew well,
was something of a musician, and wrote verses from an early age,
though it was the accidental reading of a volume of Shelley
which first kindled his real inspiration. This indebtedness
is beautifully acknowledged in his first published poem, "Pauline"

Apart from frequent visits to Italy, there is little of incident
to chronicle in Browning's life, with the one great exception
of his more than fortunate marriage in 1846 to Elizabeth Barrett,
the greatest of English poetesses.
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